A Review of Faith Trimel's "Black Aura On An Angel"
Can you lose yourself?
If you're trying to “save” someone else, you can.
This issue is at the heart of a film that has captivated me since I received it from Amazon.com last week.
I watch it for the third time, the first time in the comfort of my boudoir, the second and now third times in my knee-baby sister’s comfortable, Ellenwood living room, again nearing the bewitching hour. For my sisterly sojourn, I have brought “it,” my laptop, my work calendar, stories in my head, and my books. By October, I will have relished it at least three more times before I meet her to discuss it, her new film, "FAMILY," and her stupendous journey in film making.
“It” is the 2004, intoxicating drama, "BLACK AURA ON AN ANGEL."
She is the incomparable Faith Trimel, the film’s writer, producer and director.
I am enthralled. Wholly. And for good reasons.
In truth, one can lose oneself in another person, in an unstoppable chain of events that swirl irrevocably towards a devastating ending.
Trimel’s haunting thriller opens in suspenseful shadows. Anxiety abounds. The atmosphere is heavy. A woman’s voice can be heard pushing through shadows, imploring someone to please come over. My breath catches in my throat. I feel the tension. As though it is my first time viewing the film, I see a figure dragging something, and then someone is crawling, a woman, inching down a carpeted hall.
More shadows. Darkness. A fluty voice begs.
"BLACK AURA" begins at its ending.
This captivating technique stirs my curiosity to know how Angel and Phaedra, two women in love, arrive at this mesmerizing moment.
Before I devour the well-filmed psychological thriller, I go to the web in search of its creator, Faith Trimel. I find her where I begin my search of everyone I want to find, on MySpace. She is warm. Beautiful. Sharp. Cordial. I seek her on Facebook as well.
Then I go in search of YouTube footage of Faith and "BLACK AURA." I view the footage on her site. Since I love interviews, I search for other Trimel interviews.
Several friends vouchsafe to me that they have seen the film; their respect and admiration are undisputed. My desire to experience the film deepens.
From the start, the film’s complexity draws me in, not only because it’s based on a true story or because of Phaedra’s downward plunge into insanity, but also because of the depth of emotion Angel and Phaedra exhibit separately and together and the intensity of their love affair in the face of obvious signposts to turn back, to walk away and never look back.
Get it. Watch it. Sit with it. You must experience it for yourself.
Like me, you will contemplate what effect Angel Jackson’s mother dying had on little Angel. In a heartbreaking flashback, you’ll see the birth of her desire to nurture, see her vigilant at her mother’s bedside, and hear her promise that she will take care of her father. Softly, like mist, it comes to you: this is significant. When she confides to Jennings or “Jen,” her present-day mother/friend/sister/confident that she can’t leave Phaedra because she promised her she wouldn’t leave her, that she loves Phaedra, and that she is tired of being left, you understand.
You understand Angel’s need to love and be loved...in spite of domestic violence and other issues.
In the strangest sense, you understand why she is in awe at the boundless depth of Phaedra’s passion and sexual fire. It rains across your heart, a refreshing drizzle, when Angel tries to make Jen feel how close Phaedra holds her, how she needs protection, and even when Phaedra spirals into insanity which leaves her strong, emboldened, jealous, and without a thread of reality to guide her back to this side of paradise, Angel yet loves Phaedra.
Jennings tries to stay the hand of fate. She tosses a lifeline to her baby/woman/child, seeing as she does, beyond the things of Angel’s world.
A card reader, Jen invites Angel to get a reading with the words,“Before you go falling in love, find out if you are wasting your time,” but it is way past too late. Angel is already sprung.
But love dictates Jen read Angel’s cards without her consent.
What she discovers snatches my heart out of my bosom, and I long for Angel to be present, to see the red behind the beauty, to do more than observe and kiss cut skin, to understand the pain behind the need to cut, to stay away after the destruction of her personal property after Phaedra’s breaking and entering, and to read the irony in Phaedra’s premonition: “Don’t be scared of me, okay?”
Yet Angel heeds nothing...not even love of self.
So I clinch my teeth and stare, consumed, wanting to ease into the flat screen and shake somebody.
Though I love the delicate, pithy sayings drifting through the story like mental manna, especially Jen’s “No one ever leaves that shouldn’t have already left,” makes me want to scream, “Angel, baby, you don’t fall in love with someone, no matter how show-stopping, who can take up permanent residence in a mental health program. No, Sweetheart, no! It isn't healthy!
I feel Phaedra’s black aura from my perch on the sofa across the living room, but I gather all over again that love is indeed blind.
Despite wanting to draw Phaedra out of the film by one of her hoop earrings, bumping her head across my sister’s shiny new hardwood floor, I must be honest. She has known childhood trauma and deserves seeing “ten therapists" as Jen says.
But as much as I want to save the beautiful Angel, I know that both women are broken. Perhaps Phaedra is more so damaged, as she is a child rape survivor and worse, she is raped by a family member, more than likely her father. Both characters’ childhood flashbacks are palpable with a throbbing pain.
I’m grateful for the film’s lighter, falling in love, love-making moments. Like the film's sensual music, the poem “Bathe Me” coupled with the sexy bathtub scene tantalizes. I become the water rippling over alluring dark bodies. I am the path of petals and blossoms leading to the candlelit bathroom. Combine this with the lush scene of Angel cutting a green apple with her pocket knife and eating it in bed as she awaits her lady’s arrival, or the scene of her walking, biceps ripped, strolling through the streets, looking delicious---and you have a femme fantasy. And Phaedra is herself a provocative, tantalizing blend of roses and thorns and perfume and tears. She is a wet dream in red lingerie, a hellion in shards of light.
To fully appreciate the film’s beauty and magnitude, you must experience it for yourself. Order it from Amazon, pick it up at your favorite DVD establishment, or borrow it from a friend. It doesn't matter how you get it, just get it! You may find yourself “feeling too much,” as Phaedra so aptly puts it.
It’s Sunday morning. And I plan to watch it again, later in the day, with a friend, here at my sister’s house. Her only comment...she wants more. The film, she says, is too short.
Later, I take in the film’s Special Features: “Interview with Writer, Director, and Producer Faith Trimel,” “Interview with Actress Sherry Richardson,” “Cast and Crew Information,” and “Photos and Music Samples.” The segments--all of them--are sensational!
"Black Aura on an Angel" has whet my appetite to bask in all that I've heard and seen of what it will mean to relish Faith Trimel's sophomore offering, "Family." I am ready! Hyped! Expectant! I know it will be everything I have conjured and so much more!
Embrace the gold in your life, and be blessed.
The Golden Goddess